A bill that would allow the Johns Hopkins University to establish a private police force in Baltimore cleared another hurdle Friday in the Maryland General Assembly.
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee voted 9-1 to advance the bill to the full Senate for consideration.
Neither of Baltimore’s senators on the committee supported the bill: Sen. Jill P. Carter voted “no” and Sen. Mary Washington had to leave the voting session early for a family matter and was excused from voting. Carter and Washington voted against the bill Thursday during a meeting of the city’s senators.
The bill has been a major issue for Baltimore’s delegation this legislative session. It would allow the private university to have its own armed police force of about 100 officers.
The bill also requires the state to provide $3.5 million for city youth programs, $1 million for the YouthWorks summer job program and $10 million for community development projects. Hopkins would be required to establish at least one Police Athletic League center in the city.
Key Baltimore senators have voted to endorse a series of legislative amendments designed to win the Maryland General Assembly’s approval for an armed police force at Johns Hopkins University's campuses in the city.
Carter and Washington expressed frustration before Friday’s vote as they attempted to change the bill, but Chairman Bobby Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat, and other members of the committee were not receptive to their amendments.
Zirkin said they could offer amendments to the full Senate.
Washington warned that the bill would set a precedent for other private companies or organizations that might want their own police forces.
“We need to think about what precedent we are setting, should another private entity request this going forward,” she said.
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Washington, who has part of the university’s Homewood academic campus in her district, said she wasn’t trying to slow the bill down, but make it better. However, she couldn’t even get committee members to agree to change the title of the bill.
Maryland Senate President Mike Miller says he'll push in the 2019 General Assembly session for several law enforcement initiatives in Baltimore, including approving a police force at Johns Hopkins University. Miller says he also wants to help the city hire 500 new police officers.